The now perhaps inappropriately named Essex Skipper has for some years slowly been increasing it's range in the UK, and is another potential new insect colonist for our area. The species was found in Cardiff in the last few days by Gareth Stamp, who can now claim Glamorgan's first record. Given how easy it is to overlook, it's not inconceivable that it might already have reached our patch too and I urge anyone with an interest in butterflies to take a closer look at any Small Skippers they come across. Gareth has kindly sent me some of his images of the Cardiff specimen, which shows clearly the black tip to the antennae.
A word of warning however, Small Skipper also looks like it has a black tip, but when you look closer the underside of the tip is actually orange-brown. To be an Essex Skipper it must have a black underside to the tips of antennae, without any orange. To see this subtle difference click here www.ukbutterflies.co.uk/species.php?species=sylvestris [tip - click on male underside image to view antenna detail]